Schallenberg: There should be no impunity for war crimes and crimes against humanity
Vienna (PK) – The National Council today unanimously approved a resolution by the ÖVP and the Greens, which expresses the support of MPs for a rapid investigation and trial of war crimes suspects in the course of the Russian war of aggression. Parliamentarians demand that Austria work at international and European level to ensure that evidence of war crimes and human rights violations can be systematically evaluated and criminal proceedings can be carried out quickly.
Also under negotiation was a request from NEOS, which points to the problem of sexualized violence as part of the Russian army’s war. It was rejected by a majority. NEOS argued that women’s sexual self-determination and reproductive rights were under increasing pressure around the world. As a result, in Poland, Ukrainian women are prevented from having an abortion, even if the pregnancy is the result of rape.
Unanimous appeal by factions for consistent war crimes prosecutions
In the joint motion for a resolution, MEPs from the ÖVP and the Greens refer to war crimes and crimes against humanity related to the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. Among other things, they refer to the OSCE expert report, according to which the OSCE mission in Ukraine found clear patterns of violations of international humanitarian law by the Russian armed forces in the war. Evidence of these crimes must now be collected quickly, systematically and efficiently, and independent international investigations must be initiated that contribute to an objective clarification of events.
Gudrun Kugler (ÖVP) said the establishment of the International Criminal Court made it possible for individuals to be held accountable for “the most serious crimes of international importance” and for violations of international humanitarian law. Ukraine’s territory is subject to international criminal jurisdiction, she explained. It is now important to secure evidence quickly to help this entitlement advance. Media reports showed violations of international law, such as the use of cluster munitions and sexual violence against women and even children. The candidacy underlines that Austria supports the work of the International Criminal Court. Through its role in the OSCE, Austria is also making an important contribution to ending war and therefore war crimes as quickly as possible, Kugler said.
The war in Ukraine is a reminder that peace and prosperity cannot be taken for granted, said Johann Weber (ÖVP). In this context, Austria is committed to ensuring that those responsible in Russia for crimes against humanity can be held accountable. His parliamentary colleague Angela Baumgartner (ÖVP) also called for clarification and punishment of violations of international humanitarian law in Ukraine. Austria therefore also supports the work of the independent UN Human Rights Commission in Vienna, which is dedicated to this topic. Corinna Scharzenberger (ÖVP) said that international law sets a red line that must not be crossed even in war. Although Austria is militarily, it is not morally neutral with regard to the terrible human rights violations that have now become known. Ukraine is also defending freedom and democracy in this war, stressed the president.
Harald Troch (SPÖ) highlighted that in addition to crimes committed by individuals, Russia’s use of misanthropic weapons technology has also been documented. These are systems like cluster munitions, which are actually prohibited by international treaties. Troch valued Austria’s neutrality as an important credibility factor in supporting the application of an international legal order. Reports on the most serious war crimes in Ukraine are well documented, said Christian Drobits (SPÖ). This also included targeted attacks from Russia on civilian infrastructure. SPÖ therefore strongly supports the application. Robert Laimer (SPÖ) stated that it should not be forgotten that a new nuclear arms race has begun. A few years ago, the United States and Russia abrogated the nuclear weapons limitation treaties. A new attempt at nuclear disarmament is therefore necessary. Laimer also called for an international ban on autonomous weapons systems, in which huge investments are being made.
Russia’s attack on Ukraine, which violates international law, must be condemned in the strongest possible terms, emphasized FPÖ deputy Alois Kainz (FPÖ). International humanitarian law also applies to war and human rights must be observed. The motion for a resolution therefore calls for the condemnation of serious violations of international law and human rights, and he welcomes the fact that Austria supports the investigation of these crimes.
The resolution sends an important signal that war crimes will be punished quickly and effectively, said Faika El-Nagashi (Greens). As the seat of many international organisations, Austria can make an important contribution to the independent investigation and prosecution of war crimes by the courts. This also represents an important contribution to solidarity with Ukraine. According to El-Nagashi, the human rights violations that have now come to light include the violent deportation of people to Russia and the use of sexualized violence as a weapon of war.
NEOS deputy Helmut Brandstätter said that Ukraine’s clear democratic orientation, which was also expressed in the speech by Ukrainian Parliament Speaker Ruslan Stefantschuk to the National Council, leaves no doubt as to which side of this conflict deserves support. President Putin, on the other hand, openly endorses Stalin’s criminal policies, which, incidentally, have been increasingly heroic in Russia for several years now. It is even more important that crimes resulting from this policy are prosecuted. From his point of view, however, one should have no illusions, said Brandstätter. The application of human rights in Russia will only be possible after its military defeat.
Schallenberg: International law must apply to everyone
Foreign Minister Schallenberg said Ukrainian Parliament Speaker Ruslan Stefantschuk’s speech to Austrian lawmakers was a long-awaited signal that Ukraine’s voice must be heard. Russia’s attack on Ukraine, which violates international law, represents a clear violation of civilization and also has global effects, as it jeopardizes the basic needs of many countries in Africa and Asia. An essential part of Austria’s commitment to human rights is assistance in the investigation of war crimes. This is even more important at the moment, as the International Criminal Court is facing a gigantic task in its investigations in Ukraine, which cannot be mastered without the support of nation states.
In principle, there should be no impunity for crimes like those documented in Ukraine, Schallenberg said emphatically. It is unthinkable that States, depending on their strength, want to claim different rights for themselves. Austria must also demand and support the maintenance of a universal legal system in its own interest. Maintaining the international legal order and prosecuting violations of international humanitarian law and war crimes are therefore the guiding principles of Austrian foreign policy. The Foreign Minister emphasized that he would continue to bring up these themes repeatedly in his conversations with his counterparts. (Continued National Council) sox
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